Camping in Seoraksan, South Korea

This weekend I went on a spontaneous camping trip with a group of 20 exchange students. We gathered in groups of 4-5 and purchased tents for only 40,000 won and sleeping bags for about 15,000 Won. Everyone packed out backpacks full of snacks, beer, and soju and set out to Seoraksan National Park (설악산 국립공원) with no idea where we would actually be able to pitch our tents.

The Journey to Seoraksan

In order to get to Seoraksan we had to take the metro train for about 30 minutes to the Express Bus Terminal (고속버스터미널), from the bus terminal we had a 3-hour ride to Gong Won (강원) bus stop, which was closest to the National park. Since our group was so large, we had to split up between two buses that left every 30 minutes. The bus was comparable to business class on an airplane; it was by far the most comfortable and spacious travel bus I’ve ever been on. Our group enjoyed a few beers and great conversation on our way to the national park. Once we arrived at the bus station, many Koreans kept coming up to us and asking where we were going since we had such full bags with camping gear attached. We eventually were able to get directions to a campsite that was near to where the bus station was which was good because we didn’t arrive until after dark so it would have been difficult to find a place within the forests around the national park.

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The Campground

The campgrounds are called Seorak-dong (설악동) camping grounds. We were able to fit 5 tents on a small flat that cost only 11,000 Won to rent for the night. We had to go to a far corner of the campgrounds because many families already had tents set up and appeared to be sleeping when we arrived around 8pm. Some of the Belgium guys we were with are former boy scouts so they were able to build a fire with the branches and logs hat we gathered from the woods around us. After the fire was built, all 20 of us sat around in a circle playing drinking games and getting to know each other a little more. One of Mexicans we were with brought a ukulele and led the group with a few popular songs that we were all able to sing along to. Unfortunately, the temper dropped much lower than we were planning on, and it was very hard to sleep because everyone was so cold, but we all agreed it was worth it anyways.

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Source: Seoraksan National Park

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Seoraksan National Park

After we left the campgrounds, we headed to Seoraksan National Park to go hiking. One of the students we were with had visited this park before so he led us off the main path to a small spot with a very beautiful spring along the river. There were big rocks around that we were able to climb and lay on to get sun. A few of the kids even some cliff diving off the highest point. Only a small group of 6 ended up hiking because the trail was 3.5 km, which we realized would take well over an hour. I didn’t expect the hike to take so long and I also didn’t realize how uncomfortable I am with heights until we got close to the peak of the mountain. Along the path there were a couple traditional temples where we saw Koreans praying or meditating inside. This National park is by far the largest and most beautiful I have ever been to. They have multiple different hiking options, many small local and western restaurants, small hotels, and many temples all within the National Park with an entrance fee of only 3,500 Won. I had a very enjoyable experience getting to know some of the other students and exploring a little bit outside of Seoul itself.

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Article by Rachel from the U.S.A.

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